Category Archives: IB History Course

IB History Course Sequence Updates (A rose by any other name…)

“What’s in name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet”

– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 1

I hope everyone’s summer is off to a good start. I am enjoying running, playing with my kids, and starting my summer reading list (John Lewis Gaddis’s biography of George Kennan, huzzah!)

I am posting in order to (hopefully) clear up the current confusion about the course sequence due to the new nomenclature on the course request forms. The most important thing to say is that the course sequence is remaining exactly the same. All IB History students will study the IB twentieth century history curriculum during the first year, and the HL students will study the history of the Americas curriculum during the second year. The new course request form and nomenclature has seemingly reversed this sequence, as some of you have pointed out. The reason for this is bureaucratic and has to do with the new application of end of course exams to teacher evaluations. New state rules require that the end of course exam and course name match, hence there will be juniors enrolled in different courses taking the same class together.

In order to alleviate confusion, I will be renaming the classes on my website and blog and on all paperwork. Henceforth, the course will be IB History Year 1 and IB History Year 2. No worries though, as Juliet admonishes us, the rose will still smell as sweet. Year one students will still become obsessed with the problem of peacemaking and peacekeeping and the relative merits of Woodrow Wilson’s idealism vs. Clemenceau’s realism. You will still try not to blow up the world in the annual Cuban Missile Crisis simulation.

Now that I have hopefully cleared everything up, juniors, it’s time to start reading Guns of August.


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Extended Essay and Internal Assessment Writers: A Good Guide for Avoiding Passive Voice

Passive voice is the bane of good history writing, but often proves a difficult concept to explain to students.  Mrs. Harrington has just passed on a hilarious help for finding passive voice in your sentences.  Just insert “by zombies” after any verb, and if the sentence makes sense, you have passive voice!


“My extended essay first draft was written by zombies.”

“Sorry I’m late, Mr. Harrington.  I was driven to school by zombies.”  Explains a lot.

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Filed under Extended Essays, IB History Course, IB History of the Americas

Junior and Senior IB History Classes: Discussion Materials for Next Week

On Tuesday, 11 September, you will be leading class discussion on the causes of the First World War.  The materials for discussion will include relevant readings in the Gilbert text, the historiography handout I gave you this week, and the linked articles from the BBC listed below.

Remember also that the questions on the historiography handout are due on Tuesday as well.

Happy reading!

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Filed under IB Contemporary History, IB History Course, IB History of the Americas

Updates to Course Website

I have uploaded rubrics to the webpages for all of my courses.  The first homework assignment is now uploaded to the IB Twentieth Century and History of the Americas pages.

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Class Website Links

AP and IB History students,

Some students have been having trouble getting to the course website in order to complete the Course Rules and Procedures assignment.  The URL for the course web site is  The Rules and Procedures document is available on the page titled “Classroom Rules and Procedures.”  The website can also be accessed through the Rickards High School Social Studies page:


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Filed under AP United States History, IB History Course, IB History of the Americas

Guns of August Test and Reading Discussion

Dear Juniors and Seniors,

The reading test on The Guns of August will be administered to all IB history classes on Thursday, 23 August.  The test will consist of your choice of six identification short essays (IDs) and one essay question.  You will be able to choose six out of ten IDs, and one out of two essay questions.  All test items will be based upon the guided reading questions provided on the class blog.

There will be a brief review at the beginning of class tomorrow.  I will distribute sample IDs, and we will discuss major themes of the book.  Study thoughtfully what you have read this summer, as this will be the first serious assessment for the IB history courses.

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Guns of August, Chapter 21-Afterword

Barbara Tuchman wraps up her narrative prior to the “Miracle of the Marne.”  She takes the story from the origins of General von Kluck’s ill-timed turn in the face of the French army through General Gallieni’s brilliant organization of the defense of Paris.  Be thinking about Tuchman’s overall thesis, and why she finds the first two months of the First World War, as the fighting was only beginning, to be the most crucial in explaining the course and outcome of the conflict.

Chapter 21

How much discretion did German commanders have to make their own decisions in the field?  What impact did this doctrine have on the German approach to Paris?

What impact did new aviation technology have upon the course of the war on the Western Front in 1914?

Chapter 22

What were the long term effects of Joffre’s relief of seemingly ineffective generals?

How were the French able to coordinate a defense of Paris?


How does Tuchman explain the “Miracle of the Marne?”

How did the failure of the war plans of both sides effect the course of the First World War?

Why does Barbara Tuchman say that the battles of August 1914 laid a “trap from which there was, and has been, no exit?”  Is she implying that the First World War is still with us?  If so, how might this be true.

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Filed under IB History Course, IB History of the Americas